Creatively Connecting the Capital Region – Bringing community together one piece of art at a time

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Art and culture are always important parts of society. The inspiration and sense of belonging they contribute, whether through performance or physical art, are invaluable. Encouraging others in this way is what Lansing’s Arts Night Out and the East Lansing Art Festival strive to do. Through these events, members of the two cities can unify through a mutual love of art.

Arts Night Out: May 5
Every other month, 20-30 businesses in Lansing’s Old Town stay open late to host an artist. From 5 to 8 p.m. anyone can wander between businesses to see exhibits, demonstrations and performances while enjoying what each store or restaurant has to offer. This event started last May with a goal to connect the community through art while promoting local businesses. During the past eight events in four locations, more than 200 artists participated at over 90 venues. Now, the event is every other month and it stays in Old Town.

“We have the strongest reception here, and all of the businesses in Old Town really made it their own,” said Event Coordinator Taylor Rupp. “There are a lot of artists in the area, and this connects those artists with these non-traditional art venues.”

Allie Baldwin, a sophomore at Michigan State University (MSU), has gone to every Arts Night Out. “I get to see parts of the area that I might not otherwise,” she stated. “It’s inspiring.”

That is the mission of Arts Night Out. “It brings a lot of people into the area that might not normally be there on a Friday night,” Rupp said. “It’s boosting the businesses, it’s boosting the community and it’s helping to make these areas alive after 5.”

East Lansing Art Festival: May 20-21
This two-day extravaganza will soon be making its way back to the streets of East Lansing. Featuring 18 artists rigorously selected by a jury, two music stages, an artist demonstration area and a children’s art education section, the popular yearly event continues to dominate the local arts scene.

“The festival is a big celebration for the community,” said Festival Director Michelle Carlson. “It brings people together and introduces them to art forms they don’t normally get to see.”

The event was started by a few art students at MSU who decided to sell some of their pieces on Grand River Avenue. Now it is an annual event, with both artists and attendees coming from all over the country with one goal: to “try and inspire the next generation of artists,” Carlson said.

Jacob Wilkins, a junior at MSU, is one of those aspiring artists. “We moved to the area when I was young, and my dad used to take us to the festival,” Wilkins said. “It’s one of the reasons why I’ve always been interested in art. It’s extraordinary how so many artists and art lovers can come together like this.”

Come out to Old Town Lansing and downtown East Lansing to support your local artists. You can read more about each event on their websites: myartsnightout.com and elartfest.com.